The Life Changes, Be Ready! Preparedness and Gun Expo in Florida may be the largest preparedness and survival event of the year. The list of featured speakers includes bestselling authors, movie producers, and whole host of influential self-reliance experts. Event organizer Cindy Thompson, of Fortress Management, much like notable female self-reliance experts Survivor Jane and Melissa Norris, decided to become active in the preparedness realm because of concerns about the economy.
The Inquisitr recently sat down with Cindy Thompson to discuss the focus and activities slated to take place at the Life Changes, Be Ready! Preparedness and Gun Expo.
IQ: Is this the first such preparedness expo presented by the Fortress Management group? Why did you decide to organize the prepper expo?
Cindy: This is not our first event; Fortress Management Group has been organizing events since 2004. The November Life Changes Be Ready! Preparedness and Gun Expo will be our second event in the preparedness community. Our initial Life Changes, Be Ready! Preparedness Expo was the first of its kind and size in the Florida market. Prior to our expo, a small community preparedness event was held in October 2012 in a rural area of Seminole County, Florida.
The attendance and response to this small event was so overwhelming, we saw the need to organize a larger-scale event. The infrastructure for our first expo was put in place in less than six weeks but nevertheless, the premier Life Changes, Be Ready! Expo was held in DeLand, Florida in January of this year and was deemed a huge success by both attendees and vendors. The mission of our Expo is to awaken individuals, families and communities to the need for preparedness through education and training while also providing access to premium products that aid in the pursuit of a self-sufficient lifestyle.
IQ: Why did you become active in the preparedness community?
Cindy: Our journey into prepping has its roots in being raised by parents and grandparents who lived a frugal, self-sustaining lifestyle filled with hunting and fishing, gardening and preserving what you shot, caught and grew in the garden. Their motto was “Eat all You Can and What you Can’t Eat, You Can.” This is the foundation upon which our journey as a family began in the late 80s and early 90s and has carried through to the present. With the financial uncertainty of the near future, being ready for any life changes makes even more sense today.
IQ: Approximately three million Americans now identify on some level as preppers. What do you think prompted the increase in preparedness minded activities in the United States?
Cindy: Headlines touting the financial chaos created by the banking collapse of 2008, ongoing terror attacks, and the increase in natural weather events has had the effect of showing those who are in tune of the need to provide water, food and shelter for themselves and their loved ones. More and more, being prepared is the best insurance against loss of power, water and social and municipal services.
IQ: Why should Americans be better prepared for both a natural or man-made disaster?
Cindy: Even a cursory glance at the headlines of any newspaper, online news source or the TV news organizations will yield a bevy of stories related to hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes the world over. This holds true for man-made disasters as well, the Boston bombings are a recent attention grabber that yells for preparedness. No part of the USA or the world for that matter is immune from catastrophic events that disrupt normal channels of food, water and shelter. Being prepared insulates citizens from the lingering effects of any type of disruption in these supply lines.
IQ: What are some basic “changing the way you live tips” you would suggest to new preppers or families considering focusing more on disaster preparedness?
Cindy: The first basic tip we would offer up is to slow down. A lifestyle of preparedness is not easily accomplished in fast-paced, hectic schedules. Nor is it accomplished by spending countless hours in front of modern media sources such as TV and internet. A self-sufficient lifestyle requires prudent time management and strategic planning. It can be a very rewarding time for the entire family as new skills and experiences are shared.
As far as a practical initial ‘take action’ step …. the first and foremost important step is considering how to have fresh, pure water. Having the means to purify water is by far the most necessary in becoming self-sustaining. Having a 30-day store of non-perishable food for everyone in the family would be the next step. Another consideration would be to have the means to protect yourself and your family in the event of a prolonged disaster event. After an event that destabilizes the region, the normal police services may be disrupted or overwhelmed, leaving the area to fend for itself.
IQ: Do you consider civil unrest after any type of disaster a major threat to both life and property?
Cindy: Certainly, civil unrest can be a threat at any time, especially when precipitated by a disaster. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is a glaring example of how quickly things can unwind in a negative way. Being prepared is the best way to stay out of harm’s way when the flag goes up after a disaster of any kind. If your pantry is stocked, you have fuel reserves or an alternative means of cooking and pumping water, the possibility of harm from being out and about trying to get food, fuel or water is greatly reduced.
Life Changes, Be Ready! Preparedness and Gun Expo Featured Speakers
David Kobler – Kobler received specialized training in the field of military tactics, nuclear, biological and chemical protection and survival while in the US Army. David witnessed first-hand the importance of preparedness during his time spent in hazardous environments while in the Army. David’s passion is sharing his knowledge with others. He is a strong advocate for preparing families for any emergency situation whether it is a financial collapse or a natural disaster. He involves clients in hands-on training in preparedness techniques. Throughout the year David has speaking engagements at various conferences and has been featured as a guest on talk radio shows. After being featured on National Geographic, he is now a consultant for the Doomsday Prepper TV series.
Richard Duarte – Duarte is the author of Surviving Doomsday – A Guide for Surviving an Urban Disaster. Duarte lectures and consults in the areas of urban survival planning and preparation; he is a practicing attorney and an avid firearms enthusiast. As a father of four, a grandfather, and a husband, he refuses to delegate responsibility for his family’s welfare and safety, and passionately promotes self-reliance and preparedness. When he is not writing, speaking, teaching or thinking about urban survival, he is busy practicing law and running his law office in Miami, Florida.
James Wesley Rawles – Rawles is a survivalist author and former US Army Intelligence officer and technical writer. He now workd as a full-time blogger, retreat consultant, and freelance writer. ‘SurvivalBlog is my creation, but because of SurvivalBlog, I’m part of something bigger: a virtual community of some of the most brilliant people that you could ever meet. Despite our differences, we all have an interest in preparedness.” He is a Christian, and holds to Reformed doctrine. His view of history is of the geographical determinist school and his view of economics is of the Austrian school. Politically, he is a conservative/Constitutionalist libertarian. All of these aspects and mindset have shaped his views on preparedness. Rawles is the author of Patriots, a novel depicting fictional characters using authentic survivalist techniques to endure the collapse of the American civilization. Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse, will be released later this month.
Dillard CJ Johnson – Sergeant First Class Johnson, US Army Retired, earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star, four Purple Hearts, Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Service Medal, six Army Commendation Medals, seven Army Achievement Medals, and numerous other awards during his 20 years of service. He is the second-most-decorated soldier of the legendary 3rd Infantry Division, behind only Audie Murphy. SFC Johnson’s uniform and sniper log book are on display at the Fort Stewart Museum in Georgia.
Dr. Bones – Joseph Alton is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Ob/Gyn. He is a popular speaker at preparedness conferences throughout the country on the subject of medical readiness in austere times. Dr. Alton’s goal is to help non-medical professionals become an asset to their families in situations where help is not on the way.
Amy Alton – “Nurse Amy” is an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner and a Certified Nurse-Midwife. She has had years of experience working in large teaching institutions as well as smaller, family-oriented hospitals. Amy has extensive medicinal herb gardens and works to include natural remedies into her strategies. Dr. and Ms. Alton are the authors of the #1 Amazon Bestseller, The Doom and Bloom™ Survival Medicine Handbook. Additionally, they have been regular contributors to Backwoods Home, Self-Reliance Illustrated, Survival Quarterly, and Survivalist Magazine. As Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy the pair host the Doom and Bloom™ radio show.
Tom MacCubbin – MacCubbin is known to gardeners in Florida through his radio, television, and newspaper contributions. The retired extension environmental horticulturist with the University of Florida in Orange County has degrees in horticulture from the University of Maryland. MacCubbin writes a question-and-answer gardening column and feature articles for The Orlando Sentinel. He is also the co-host of the Orange County Gardening show on cable television. His radio program Better Lawns & Gardens is broadcast to over 20 Florida stations.
Charley Hogwood – Hogwood was born and raised in Florida. Charley is the Life Changes, Be Ready! expo resident Chief Instructor on emergency preparedness and disaster readiness. Prior to focusing his life to personal emergency preparedness, he served over 15 years in both the US Army and the Florida National Guard. He was an honor student in a class of 436 soldiers at the Leadership Development School in Fort Benning, Georgia, among many other leadership and survival certifications. His experience has been tested on several continents and in many natural disasters. During his time as a Lead Scout with the 11th Armored Cavalry, US Army, he spent years deployed to Europe honing his skills in reconnaissance, first aid, and humanitarian missions.
In the aftermath of the Chernobyl incident, Charley was deployed to monitor the radiation dispersal over much of the fresh food system of Eastern and Western Europe. Large areas of agriculture and livestock were contaminated and had to be destroyed as governments rushed to provide safe food to millions of citizens who were used to having easy access to food. As an active member of the US Army, he was charged with border security operations including planning and participating in patrolling and security operations, rapid reaction deployment and security of several international incidents. He also has experience in radiation detection and chemical warfare, among many other tactical and leadership skills.
Robert Henry – Henry is the owner of SurvivalandPreparedness.com one of the leading sources for quality preparedness information on the internet. Robert has been actively preparing since 1986 and he and his family have lived full time at their survival retreat since the late 90s where they produce their own power and grow and raise most of their own food. Robert teaches regularly on a number of survival and preparedness topics and is known for The Survival Report newsletter, shortwave radio show and podcast. Robert brings a down to earth, flexible and thought provoking approach to preparedness.
David Christopher – Christopher was raised in the simple ways of natural health. David’s interests grew beyond his university study. In 1974 David Christopher, M.H., took his place by his father’s side at The School of Natural Healing. David’s book entitled An Herbal Legacy of Courage is a loving tribute to his father. In 1979 he became a Master Herbalist and the director of The School of Natural Healing. Today, thousands safely apply the Christopher methodology thanks to his directorship. David is an international lecturer and was instrumental in influencing natural healing principles taught in several European Herbal Colleges. David and his wife Fawn host a weekly radio program, A Healthier You. He has generated new ideas on the management of high blood pressure, diabetes and auto-immune diseases, and was one of the first to discourage the use of Prozac in favor of natural methods. David Christopher’s goal in life is to help others learn to benefit from a healthier lifestyle.
Trey Dawson – “I inherited from my father, a love of history and marksmanship. While I once considered both of these to be hobbies, I now see them as prerequisite for maintaining, as Thomas Paine once called it, that most ‘Celestial Article,’ Liberty,” Dawson spends most of his spare time working for Project Appleseeds, a 501c3, nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to maintaining the traditions and ideals of the Founding generation.
Marjory Wildcraft – “Homegrown Food On Every Table” is the mission of Marjory Wildcraft’s organization. Marjory has been called the “Martha Stewart of Self-Reliance” as she is a regular guest on many national radio and television shows. Most recently, Marjory was featured as an expert in sustainable living by National Geographic. She is an author of several books, but is best known for her video series Grow Your Own Groceries which helps you create an organic food producing paradise in your backyard. Grow Your Own Groceries is widely used by homesteaders, survivalists, universities, and missionary organizations around the world. Marjory has an online resource center for backyard food production where you can find inspiration, humor, and practical steps for getting homegrown food on your dinner table.
Lucinda Bailey – “The Seed Lady” has had a life-long love affair with gardening and seeds. Her interest began as a teenager in Michigan, where she grew produce in her backyard to sell to her neighbors. By the time she met her business partner, Lucinda’s private collection of vegetable, fruit and herb seeds exceeded 800 varieties; it has since expanded to approximately 1,000. A Texas Master Gardener, the seed lady is happiest when she is tending her garden, or better yet, when she is teaching others how to do the same.
Travis Fox – Fox is a security consultant, disaster planning specialist, and firearms instructor. After responding to disasters around the globe, Travis formed Reel Equity Funding [a film production company] to create high quality movies that highlight the need for preparedness. Travis feels strongly that the entertainment media can be used as a positive influence, and has secured the rights to produce the blockbuster book Lights Out Saga into a movie series. Travis will lead the effort as the executive producer, and is dedicated to making the project a reality.
Cindy Thompson – As co-owner of Fortress Management Group, Inc., Cindy Thompson is a driving force behind the Life Changes. Be Ready! Preparedness and Gun Expo. With a mission To awaken individuals, families and communities to the need for preparedness through education and training while also providing access to premium products that aid in the pursuit of a self-sufficient lifestyle, the Life Changes. Be Ready! Preparedness and Gun Expo is a reflection of the calling Cindy feels on her life. Due to the time commitment of managing an expo, Cindy usually does not speak at the expos. However, feeling compelled to teach a session for women Cindy will be speaking at the upcoming Lakeland expo. Two aspects of preparation that Cindy believes a lot of women overlook are self-defense and physical fitness. As an NRA instructor whose shooting career began as a cadet at the United States Military Academy, West Point, Cindy is passionate about teaching women of all ages not only about situational awareness but also about self-defense through the use of firearms. Cindy’s professional training as an Exercise Physiologist explains why she is very adamant that physical fitness is a vital part of every woman’s ability to defend herself.
Dawn Kight – Kight is an IDPA certified Range Safety Officer, and an NRA Certified Instructor in: F.I.R.S.T. Steps Basic Pistol – Firearms, Instruction, Responsibility, and Safety Training, Basic Pistol, Refuse To Be A Victim, and Eddie Eagle.
[Featured Image Via: Shutterstock.com]